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DVD - Equilibrium, 8/10 - 2002


Sep 21 2005, 07:59 PM (Post #1)
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Title - Equilibrium
Year - 2002
Starring - Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, Sean Bean
Running Time - 102 mins
Official Site - http://www.momentumpictures.co.uk/
IMDB - http://imdb.com/title/tt0238380/
Script - .PDF


Review
From the offset, looking at the DVD box, it is apparent what this film is trying to be before you even read the quotes - "The Matrix meets 1984", "the fight scenes are delirious", "If you loved THE MATRIX, this is a must".

So far, so wannabe.

The story, in a nutshell, is that humanity has finally decided, after many wars, pain and suffering, that it would be a better world if we had no emotions at all. Our love and compassion would be forfeited for a world without lust or hate. We have given up all happiness to have no sadness. We are essentially hollow.

In this world, not even the arts and crafts all permitted. Everything has to be clinical, and as most of the population are on constant emotion numbing drugs, no-one really cares. No-one, that is, but the sober people. A group of rebellers have stopped taking their medicine, began salvaging some lost art, media and feeling, and are banding together to combat their rulers. However, 'Father', the face of world peace, is hidden far behind many tiers of defence. Foremost are his Clerics - the robot-like men who seek out and destroy all remaining art and other such emotion enticements. If any rebellion is mounted against them, they simply destroy the opposition with their b*stardised martial art/gunplay hybrid style of fighting. A style that has been inputted into their bodies in a computer like degree of control, allowing over 100% efficiency and accuracy. Aiding these seemingly unbeatable clerics is a seemingly impenetrable army of basic footsoldiers with guns. Against a neo-hippy group of art rebels, the emotional side of humanity seems to stand no chance.

Sean Bean, in an excellent underplayed role that he is so good at (his performance of Boromir in the Lord Of The Rings is perfect proof) gets the unravelling of the tight ship off to a good start. His character is one of the Clerics, but he is a 'sense offender'. He secretly pockets the arts which the Clerics are recruited to destroy. Our main character, and Sean's characters partner, John Preston, because to suspect his friend of stealing such things, and is not surprised at all to find him during a raid reading a book in a darkened building. After a brief attempt at converting his friend, Mr Bean says an early farewell at the end of Preston's smoking barrel.

From here, the story goes on to follow John's downfall from Cleric to rebel, told through cunning wordplay with his new partner Brandt (Diggs) and many fast (perhaps too fast to take it all in on the first watch), short action sequences, showing off the Clerics new and only 'art' - that of battle. There is even a great 'lobby scene', but it far surpasses the Matrix's bullet-orgy in favour of a more sleek and humanly-possible sequence.

Surprisingly, the movie not only throws many red herrings and plot twists at the viewer, but it's climatic 'final battle' between our two sparring partners isn't handled with typical Hollywood arrogance either, and while most action fiends will be howling with tears when they view it, I for one think this different approach is commendable and actually works well with the rest of the film to create the feeling of actuality in a futuristic setting.

From the film's very beginning, it is hard to imagine what the all Matrix references are relating to. Apart from being set in the future, humanity being slightly subjugated, and there being some awesome fight scenes, (three things apparent in most action movies), there is no other comparisons to draw. There is no machines. There is no alternate reality. Everything that transpires was created by humans, for humans, and could happen with future humans. And that makes it much more scary and realistic than anything the Wachowski's could ever produce.

Rating - 8/10
Final Thoughts - Spectacular and underated film, which means you can usually get it for a bargain price at the shops. Everything is handled in a brilliantly realistic way for a futuristic film, and the approach to the fight scenes and entire film is uniquely applaudable. The only faults that the film falls down on is weakening it's integrity by including many cheesy film stereotypes, and for also having little in the way for re-play value other than to watch the fighting again in slow motion. Rent it, borrow it from a friend, buy it if it's cheap, but whatever you do, make sure you watch this film at least three times. It will take you that much to be fully awed by the world, amazing by the battles, and appreciative of the characters.
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